Lani Silver, Oral Historian, Passes Away

Cross-posted from The Mustard Seed.

Lani Silver, a native of San Francisco and an anti-racist teacher and activist, who founded the Bay Area Holocuast Oral History Project, passed away, just found out through San Francisco supervisor Eric Mar on his Facebook:

Lani’s work with the Holocaust lead to her discovery of Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara. Chiune was a Japanese diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews in the Holocaust while stationed in Lithuania in 1939. Sugihara is called the “Japanese Schindler.” Sugihara, with the support of his wife Yukiko, and in cooperation with the Acting Dutch Consulate Jan Zwartendijk, issued visas to Jews against the orders of the Japanese government. After the war Sugihara was dismissed from the Foreign Service for “that incident in Lithuania.”

Lani’s funeral is this Sunday, February 1, at Beth Israel Judeo, Brotherhood Way, in San Francisco. It will be at 12:30 PM.

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7 Responses to Lani Silver, Oral Historian, Passes Away

  1. 1
    Lea says:

    I only learned about Sugihara Chiune from Kate Beaton’s comic about him here. Judging from the comments, I’m not the only one. It really is a remarkable story.

  2. 2
    NancyP says:

    Sugihara was the subject of a PBS documentary – quite fascinating.

  3. 3
    Ellen Szakal says:

    Lani’s funeral is this Sunday, February 1, at Beth Israel Judeo, Brotherhood Way, in San Francisco. It will be at 12:30 PM.

    Lani touched many, many, many people in profound and life-changing ways. Lani just celebrated her 60th birthday in March, not knowing that she was sick, nor that she wouldn’t make it to her 61st. Let’s come together and celebrate her beautiful life!!

    Her friend,

  4. 4
    Jack Stephens says:

    Thanks, Ellen, I was just about to post that.

  5. 5
    David Rubinson says:

    I am Executive Producer of the film SUGIHARA Conspiracy of Kindness, referred to above. Lani Silver was instrumental in bringing this story to public awareness, and was responsible for bringing Yukiko Sugihara to the US for events in SF and NY. She was an originator of the “Oral History” concept, and deserved much wider recognition than she received. We are in her debt, and mourn her loss.
    Factual corrections regarding Sugihara:
    1- The man actually responsible for issuing the first visas for Jews to escape via Japan to Curacao was DM DeDekker, the actual Dutch Ambassador in Riga, who unfortunately is largely unheralded. While Zwartendijk gets credit, and deserves it, he was not a career diplomat, and served under DeDekker, who wrote written orders to Zwartendijk to give the visas.
    2- There is no evidence that Sugihara was fired by the Japanese Govt for his actions in Lithuania, and the story that he was denied his pension has been disproven. This is mere embellishment, and I believe that Sugihara’s story needs none, and hyperbole diminishes him.
    3- I feel it also diminishes Sugihara to call him a Japanese Schindler. He was much more. Emblematic of Sugihara’s actions were his refusal to either seek or allow any public acknowledgment of what he did. As he said: any good man would have done the same.
    Schindler made large sums of money doing what he did, and then sought compensation and financial support from Jews after the war.
    In any event, our gratitude and warm appreciation for a life well lived to Lani Silver, to whom we owe so much.
    David Rubinson

  6. 6
    Lucas Bruijn says:

    In addition to the valuable comments of David Rubinson I would like to say that Sugihara saved about 2000 Jews. ‘Thousands off’ is suggesting more and in many Sugihara stories we read, that the man saved four, six or even ten thousand Jews. On the website of the USHMM, ‘Flight and Rescue’, the story is told with the correct facts. There was no cooperation between Zwartendijk and Sugihara. The Curacao visas were not the invention of De Dekker or Zwartendijk.

  7. 7
    corky wick says:

    Mothertongue Feminist Theater Collective is having an event to honor the life and death of Lani Silver on March 28,2010, from 2-5 at SF Women’s Building on 18th St. There will be a reading of bits of her autobiography. Others are invited to say or read their memories of Lani. Her art will be on display. Free